Funded by Future Jobs, a regional workforce development project created in 2008, this pilot initiative builds on collaborations established a year ago by Upward Bound Director Eddie Chambers, Admission Counselor/Math and Science Recruiter Sarah Jusiewicz and Director of Computational Science Eric Stahlberg. The intent is to encourage prospective college students to pursue careers in science-related fields that are so important to regional employers.
"We wanted to start where students are already interested and connect that interest with the skills that employers will be looking for," said Stahlberg, also Wittenberg's computational scientist in residence. "We began with the common interest of video games and computer-generated films and helped the students connect to the science and animation that is portrayed in them."
Upward Bound students who expressed interest in science last summer were taught by Wittenberg students Jessica Brewer, class of 2010 from Springfield, Ohio, Molly Dannaher, class of 2010 from Galena, Ohio, and Laura Linden, class of 2008 from Troy, Ohio, during three sessions. They learned that the basis of realistic animation is simulation using computational sciences, and they explored the physics of everything from a bouncing ball to, with software from the NASA, the launch of a spaceship.
Students also met employees from Avetec, a non-profit organization that specializes in jet engine research, to see first-hand how simulation through computational sciences takes place in the workforce. Positive feedback from 2008 Upward Bound students was key to the decision to seek funding from Future Jobs and expanding into a pilot initiative this year.
"We hope that the students became inspired to learn more about science, because it's important that everyone has a solid understanding of what science and technology means for their lives," Stahlberg said.
The partnership between computational science and Upward Bound comes at a time when state government leaders are pushing for more students to pursue STEM degrees.
"What we are doing is giving Upward Bound students the necessary background in science and math to ensure they have the proper instruction to pursue an education in the fields after high school," Chambers said.
Upward Bound is a pre-college preparatory program designed to provide academic skills for students from first-generation college and low-income families. The program provides mentors and tutoring programs during the academic year and a six-week program in the summer, at which time the students live on Wittenberg's campus while receiving an educational, cultural and social experience.
Written By: Jenna Oliver '09 and Ryan Maurer
Photo By: Erin Pence
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